THERE is no point in calling asparagus a dandelion, but groping for 'substitute' ingredients can and does beget perfectly respectable new dishes. Just such an attempt, it appears, is behind the following tradition, kindly related by Joan Langrognat of Harrow, Middlesex.

'It is a very old French country custom to pick the very, very young dandelion buds (before there is even a hint of yellow) and toss them into the beaten eggs for an omelette,' she writes.

'They are an excellent substitute for asparagus tips - readily available in the UK in springtime and far cheaper.'

This week's first winning recipe, and the last in our series on asparagus, comes from Ms A Laing of Cambridge. She, and a second winner named below, will receive a bottle of Tokay Pinot Gris Reserve Rolly Gassman 1988 from Bibendum Wines, north London.

Asparagus with Almond Butter

Serves 6

Ingredients: 2lb (900g) of


pinch salt

4oz (115g) lightly salted butter

4oz (60g) blanched almonds

2tbs freshly squeezed lemon


pinch Hungarian paprika

Preparation: Cook asparagus until tender in lightly salted water. Drain and reserve spears in warmed dish. Heat butter in a saucepan until frothy but not brown. Add almonds and cook until lightly golden. Add lemon juice and pour over hot asparagus. Sprinkle with paprika and serve with fresh brown bread.

THIS dish, submitted by J Bradley of Kendal, Cumbria, has a slightly old-fashioned appeal - like a tried and tested favourite that might crop up on a cream- cheese wrapper. In fact it is delicious. The recipe comes from an American bestseller, the Silver Palate Cookbook (Workman, pounds 10.95) from Books for Cooks, 4 Blenheim Crescent, London W11 (071-221 1992).

Asparagus with Prosciutto

Serves 6 as starter

Ingredients: 6oz (115g) cream


1/4 tsp finely minced garlic

pinch salt

pinch freshly ground pepper

12 medium thin slices prosciutto

12 asparagus spears, cooked and cut in half

Preparation: Preheat oven to 350F/180C/gas 4. Combine cream cheese, garlic, salt and pepper. Spread each slice of prosciutto with cheese and roll around 2-3 asparagus segments. Arrange on a baking sheet and bake lightly until heated through, about 5 minutes.

Next week, the first of our recipes for cream teas, either savoury or sweet. Send your recipes to Emily Green, Recipe, Weekend Features, The Independent, 40 City Road, London EC1Y 2DB. Those whose recipes we print will receive a 1lb tin of Darjeeling Best from the Algerian Coffee Stores in Old Compton Street, London W1.